Connecticut House overrides Malloy veto of changes to affordable housing law
HARTFORD >> House members who wanted to override the governor’s veto on a five-year affordable housing plan needed 101 votes on Monday.
After a two-hour debate that pitted suburban versus urban lawmakers, the override succeeded 101-47, sending the legislation to the Senate.
The bill, which would affect six towns, including Greenwich, Fairfield, Stratford and Milford, would expand the types of dwelling units counted toward those communities’ progress on statewide affordable-housing goals.
“We thought we should offer carrots,” said Rep. Larry Butler, D-Waterbruy, co-chairman of the legislative Housing Committee, who spent much of the debate fending off criticism from lawmakers from Hartford, New Haven, Stamford and Bridgeport. “There is a serious problem here. We tried to provide an opportunity to mitigate that in the state of Connecticut.”
Rep. Patricia Billie Miller, D-Stamford, said that historic housing laws restricted many lower-income residents to the major cities. “They were locked into certain areas,” she said. “They could go to Bridgeport, they could go to Norwalk. The small towns that surrounded our area would not allow those families.”
But the emergence in recent decades of affordable housing requirements has opened up housing opportunities in towns such as Darien. “We wanted to give every family the opportunity to live in any community that they wanted to and so I cannot support this piece of legislation because I feel that it is going to push us backward.”
Rep. Chris Rosario, D-Bridgeport, commended Gov. Dannel P. Malloy for vetoing the bill. “I strongly believe that this legislation will take affordable housing in the wrong direction,” he said.
“Yeah, we can talk a good game,” said Rep. Juan Candelaria, D-New Haven. “I hear a lot of my colleagues say this is what we need for affordable housing.” He questioned whether the affected towns will actually come up with better affordable housing programs with the five-year cushion.
But Rep. Kim Rose, D-Milford, said that some property developers in her city take advantage of affordable housing laws to maximize unit coverage at the expense of the character of small neighborhoods.
“Right now we have more than 1,000 units of housing in development and building stage, with 30 percent of those affordable,” she said. “We have predatory developers that are purchasing small parcels, single family parcels, one house in the middle of a development of Cape Cods. And they are coming in and putting in 15 units, three stories.”
Statewide, more than 130 towns and cities have less than 10 percent of their housing units classified as affordable.
Democrats who voted with Republicans - who stood united in favor of the override, included Rep. Andrew Baker of Bridgeport, Rep. Michael D’Agostino of Hamden, Michael DiMassa of West Haven, Rep. Joe Gresko of Stratford, Rep. Cristin McCarthy Vahey of Fairfield, Rep. Chris Perone of Norwalk, Rose, and Rep. Bruce Morris of Norwalk.
A bill that would allow a developer to create a shared thermal loop in Bridgeport failed to win enough support to reach the House floor, killing it for the year.
House majority leaders also expect to vote on a deal with unionized state workers aimed at saving $1.56 billion in the budget year that began July 1; and approve rewritten language allowing the state’s tribal casinos to build a third facility in East Windsor in attempt to compete with the billion-dollar MGM Resorts casino that is scheduled to open in Springfield, Mass. in the fall.
Any overridden veto would next go to the Senate, which has scheduled a July 31 vote on the unions’ concessions.
House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, on Monday said that her caucus, with a 79-72 minority, wants to vote on its budget proposal Monday. Klarides told reporters Monday morning that towns and cities need some certainty in their own adopted budgets. But Aresimowicz criticized the GOP plan as an attempt to end collective bargaining in the state.
Meanwhile, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities on Monday released a survey that indicates spending freezes that have resulted from the budget impasse in the General Assembly have occurred in 29 of 61 member towns and cities.
“And the specter of towns and cities needing to reopen their local budgets to adjust for significant cuts in state aid that could result from a final state budget agreement has created an unprecedented local-budget situation among municipal leaders,” said Joe DeLong, CCM executive director.
KDixon@ctpost.com; Twitter: @KenDixonCT